A fascination of the album format has always been its ability to provide a soundtrack to a particular set of memories, a snapshot of life. This latest record from Jonkoping’s Emil Svan�ngen has just such a potential, its yearning vocals and luminous scoring lingering long in the mind.
Think Belle and Sebastian or a touch of Aberfeldy and take that east over the North Sea to Sweden, adding exquisite touches of orchestration and a touch more wistfulness as you go, and you have a rough template for the sound of Loney Dear. It’s an unlikely signing for Seattle’s Sub Pop label, but Svan�ngen was discovered over the internet, and has since gathered a full band to accompany him.
This means the live show should work well, as there’s plenty going on in the background here – muffled handclaps, the quiet burbling of a clarinet, soft whistling and the distant chime of a glockenspiel are just some of the treats in store.
All are subtly employed elements that add to the charm of each song on repeated listening. In addition Svan�ngen is capable of subtly emoting his subject matter, in a way that leaves an impression. This is evident in the nobility of a song such as No One Can Win, which has a striking resemblance to the refrain of the classical tune ‘O Holy Night’. Images of the snow falling outside but a warm fire within are difficult to resist as the chorus soars to its conclusion.
Svan�ngen uses drums, but sparingly, and his prowess as an orchestrator comes through in the wonderful touches applied to The Meter Marks OK, a soft string-based waltz that finds a rare tenderness. When a slightly rougher edge is required he finds it, so that the gathering of momentum in I Am John finds a strange euphoria.
Artists that are seen to actively explore their feminine or sensitive sides on record are often given a hard time and accused of being twee. Loney Dear escapes that accusation thanks to the well placed vocals, with Svan�ngen’s voice exploiting that slightly husky timbre the Scandinavians do so well.
A real slow burner then, one that should draw in fans of subtle electronica from fellow Scandinavians Royksopp, as well as those more guitar based acts named above. Give it a few listens, and witness the way it implants itself on your mind.